First nationwide active case ascertainment study of FASD in Australia

November 2022

Martyn Symons

Project description: 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and is the most prevalent preventable neurodevelopmental disorder.

In Western countries, prevalence rate estimates range from about 1.8 per cent in Europe to more than 3.5 per cent in the United States. The prevalence of FASD in Australia is unknown. In Western Australia, data places a lower bound of .04 per cent although this is recognised as an underestimate. A single active case ascertainment study in remote Aboriginal communities estimated prevalence at 20 per cent.

The unknown prevalence makes it difficult to evaluate FASD prevention activities, such as the recent $24m national public awareness campaign, and for government to accurately budget for community need around prevention, diagnosis and support.

This project brings together FASD experts and stakeholders from around Australia to develop a set of protocol options for conducting an active case ascertainment study of FASD prevalence across Australia, informed by latest epidemiological and statistical methods. Options will be costed and include possible extensions to incorporate other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, for which we also don’t know the prevalence in Australia.